Well, hello there. So glad you’re still with me as I plug away with my 12 Days of Projects. This has been a good journey – both a lot of fun, and motivating to get things done! Maybe I should approach everything this way. 😉 Somehow sharing with you all makes me very committed to getting it done. We are on Day 8 of 12 Days of Projects… let’s go!
Today I’m having fun? (more like wrestling) with fabric transfers. For some reason, I thought it would be possible to accomplish what I wanted with readily available products. I have some Ikea kitchen towels that I wanted to spruce up with some text and graphics. I now know why screenprinting exists – I’m pretty sure it is the most effective way to print on fabric. But if the internet isn’t for finding this stuff, I don’t know what it is… hence, let the Googling commence…
1. What I found is that you can try printing on fabric with your inkjet printer – this frightened me, as I didn’t want to ruin my printer plus it seemed like the tutorials I found required cutting freezer paper to the size of your fabric (which also had to be 8.5 x 11 to fit through the printer) – too many limitations. So I skipped that.
2. I moved to iron-on transfers. I bought some paper (expensive at $10/pack of 7 sheets) at Walmart for my first attempts. I’m not sure what all variations exist for iron-on transfer paper, but this product is really only suitable for some very basic transfers. It produced essentially a polymer square not pliable at all and very plastic-looking right after ironing (can’t use to dry dishes!). Fail.
3. I found a great tutorial about printing right onto freezer paper (cheap!) that could produce a soft aged effect and thought, perfect! That’s what I want, and my first attempt wasn’t bad (you will need to cut paper to 8.5 x 11). It’s just that it’s quite light (I’m washing now to see if it will completely fade). But because you are printing on a non-porous surface and essentially transferring that ink, if any little jam happens in your printer – ink shmear everywhere! Fail. Frustrating, because this would definitely be the cheapest method. If you try it, know that freezer paper is not wax paper (I did find it at Target, though for $3+ a roll!).
4. Enter Lesley Riley’s TAP: Transfer Artist Paper. I read only good reviews of this product and successful tutorials! Unfortunately, it’s a little expensive ($10+ for 5 sheets!) and I had to buy via Amazon (couldn’t find locally). But the results I got were quite good and the closest to official screenprinting. Apparently you can use this paper for multiple surfaces, too…I will definitely be experimenting more.
Graphic (I used one from http://thegraphicsfairy.com/)
TAP transfer paper
Kitchen towels or fabric for transfer
Step 1. Iron your fabric on a hard surface covered with a pillow case or towel. Use the iron on the highest setting (no steam) and remove wrinkles.
Step 2. Print your graphic in reverse. Graphics fairy has reverse versions. If I did a custom one, I would just flip horizontal in Photoshop and save a PDF. Cut around the graphic. This paper is expensive so you might want to try printing multiple graphics on one sheet, etc. I’m not sure how long it lasts between printing and ironing, though.
Step 3. Place the graphic ink side down on your fabric. The instructions say to iron ~20 seconds, but I found that ~30-40 worked a little better (maybe it’s my iron). You want to keep moving in a random paper around the paper (so it doesn’t burn). And when you think it’s ready, pull up one corner – if it pulls back easily it’s done. If it doesn’t, iron until it does (you won’t ruin the paper by ironing longer).
Et voilå, you are done! Looks pretty good and the polymer is a little bit noticeable but way better than the initial iron-on paper. I also decided to wash these to test the fade on all of them and maybe soften them up a little bit. Here’s the final result (including after washing):
I think these could have a lot of potential once I perfect the technique and maybe get a little better at ironing, ha! I hope you enjoyed this post – happy project’ing’! 🙂